Tag Archives: detachment

All grown up



My sons keep themselves awake at night,
their future the warp and their fear the weft
of a blanket that dares them to sleep,
because it wants to drag them down
into their darkness, gasping.

I hear this, I see this, I know this, I care;
I raised them, I love them, I do.
And it’s not that I want to, or don’t,
or should or shouldn’t or won’t,
it’s their time, not mine;
so for me, I’m sorry,
but at night,
I sleep like
a stone.

Thank you for reading All grown up. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at the Fundació Joan Miró museum in Barcelona, Spain. I cannot remember the artist’s name, but it was from an installation entitled Scars. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Detachment

IMG_1719a

She holds and twists her long-telling tale
of tangled and torn-at knots: blue ones, red ones,
yellow ones, green, her nails worn to the quick
sorting the strands of the rough fibers,
tiny dark stains bled into their ragged ends.

Blue ones, I think, for the oceans of ink wept
and yet to be written; red ones for the nights that
the sharp-tongues came out, yellow for a spot
to stand firm on. (The blow, it’s certain, is coming,
yet you stand there just the same.) And finally
green, dark green, that whispering green,
that green-green germ that grows inside you:
the one you eat whole and alive, else it eats you up
from the inside—because you planted it just for you.
That one.

up

Thank you for reading Detachment. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph of the river was taken in my home town of Putnam, just as the sun was going down. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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I just can’t till this land no more

Ghosts - Bodie State Park, CA
I just can’t till this land no more,
I just can’t till this land.
It’s a barren land, this land I hoe,
seeded with the salt of tears.
I stand on this land and it pulls me down
yearning to swallow me whole.

Here the wind whispers to the plow,
the plow to me and I to the yoke back:
You live only to die, to reap what is sown
and to gnaw the bitter root.

Carry on.

swril2

There are times when, out of desperation, fear, hope or love, we try to hold on to things and to control them. But they cannot be held, cannot be controlled and it is futile to try—they only strangle in your grip.

Santayana said, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. If there is humor built into Nature, that is it.

The photograph is entitled Ghosts and was taken in the ghost town of Bodie in Bodie State Park, CA. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading I just can’t till this land no more. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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One fall drive in the Poconos

Maple leaf forever

The small maple leaf, deep red with tiny yellow daubs and
a bent stem, floated down before the windshield and slowly,

lazily even, started to curl midair, casting as
it twisted, a spell on time itself: sound stopped and light curved

in a still sheen, highlighting the pale yellows on one side
of the road and the blood reds on the other, with a pair

of puzzled eyes—hazel my mother called them—floating in
between. Suddenly I knew this for what it was: an ache

for all those calm, quiet, forgotten moments, the ones of
absolute lightness that are sweeter than breath itself and

sufficient for being them unto themselves. Gone then
were those agitated moments—

With a whoosh, more imagined then heard, the little maple
leaf flew up and over the car, into the void behind.

– or –

The small red leaf twisted in the wind,
an instance of perfect resignation,
a breath released before I—
gone.

 

swril2

 

Recently, my wife and I spent a week in the Poconos, the name the resort area goes by in Pennsylvania. (In New York the same area is known as the much more prestigious “Catskills,” which just goes to show you that even a mountain range can do with good marketing these days.)

We were both, by the time we got there, exhausted and tired in both body and spirit, so the trip was a welcome respite from our daily clamor.

The incident described in the poems happened exactly as described, but that raises the question, Why two poems under one title?

I wish I had as good an answer as the question. The longer poem was my attempt at a more structured, detailed poem. You will note, for example, the 14 syllable line construction until the break and how much color plays a role in it. But in the end, I wanted to try something even  more closely aligned (if not as descriptive) with the spirit of the event, its brevity and intensity.

Like any good parent I will not state a preference of one child over the other. But please, feel free to weigh in on which you think works the best for you.

Thank you for reading One fall drive in the Poconos. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. These poems and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Ian Hamilton’s “The Garden”

Ian Hamilton is a poet from the second half of the 20th century who I greatly admire and whose poetry I love to champion. You can find a listing of more of his poems on the Book of Pain here.

The Garden

This garden’s leaning in on us, green-shadowed
Shadowed green, as if to say: be still, don’t agitate
For what’s been overgrown—
Some cobbled little serpent of a path,
Perhaps, an arbour, a dry pond
That you’d have plans for if this place belonged to you.
The vegetation’s rank, I’ll grant you that,
The weeds well out of order, shoulder-high
And too complacently deranged. The trees
Ought not to scrape your face, your hands, your hair
Nor so haphazardly swarm upwards to breathe
In summertime. It shouldn’t be so dark
So early.
All the same, if I were you,
I’d let it be. Lay down your scythe. Don’t fidget
For old clearances, or new. For one more day
Let’s listen to our shadows and be glad
That this much light has managed to get through.

For more on Ian Hamilton, I refer you to his Wikipedia page.

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s “The Garden”. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

Comments © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved.

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Fix

I took the stuff that makes
the light fail around the edges
and causes sound to disappear,
sealed it in a package,
wrapped it with a hug,
and flew it out to the coast,
letting it go, all of it,
praying to God my tears
didn’t ruin the return address
so that he could find his way
back home.

Please, can you fix him
so that he can be what he can be,
and not the junkie he’s become?
Please?

Thank you so much for reading Fix. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Us Anonymous

You and me, let’s do it, let’s start it,
Us Anonymous.
They’ll come, you’ll see,
every one of them, they’ll come.

We’ll launch with a desperate desire
because that’s the key to it, I think, desperation.
To celebrate, we’ll take every last, nasty thing
that we can be and pour them into some fireworks.
We’ll seal them up and prime them down
and launch them way up high.
When they explode (and count on it, they will)
every little part that we let go
will burn and glow in full public view
(painfully it’s true, but just for a moment)
before fading…leaving our dreams on the air,
dispersing everywhere.
Gosh, I can see it now, it will be beautiful.
It will.

Thank you so much for reading Us Anonymous. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.

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Oh-so-softly

I am guilty—who do I blame?
I am old—who do I entreat?
I am torn—who do I thank?

There is, I suspect, in the shell of every need
the pith of an answer
and the crown of a desire rooted deep in pure release.
Not lost (not yet) but slipping,
just-oh-so-softly away.
Aye, slipping.

There comes an age when you are “older.’ By this I do not mean “21 is older than 20,” but “older” as in “old.” You recognize that the majority of your life is behind you and that certainly the most dynamic, energizing part has slipped into the past.

This realization put me in a reflective mood, looking back on my life. None of it matters, not really. Who you have been and are, the people you affected and who affected you—that matters—but only in a reflective way, as a mirror reflects the world. The moment that is, is, and for right now, that is all you have. Not the past, not the future, but only the here and now.

Thank you for reading Oh-so-softly. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Once skiing

The chitter chat of ice will haunt me for years:
I spent a week up on that mountain
and never once did I get my edge back.

We do not, in our wisdom, think these things timely
and more fools for that are we.
It is—when we want itwhat we make it
and only then what we want it to be.
But listen:

It wasn’t the slope, it wasn’t my age,
and it wasn’t for lack of trying.
It was only what it ever is
and it only ever is me and the mountain
and that moment, that perfectly smooth
infinitely graceful, deliciously sweet moment
of surrender,
when I recall most well what being out there
on that edge is
and when I really get it back.

I love to ski. I am not particularly good at it, but what I lack in style and ability I make up for in enthusiasm and spending. So that week in Maine, when for some odd reason I could not get into the groove of it, really sat on my mind. The weather was much of the problem it is true. It rained and then turned very cold; the chitter chat of my skis sliding over ice patches was true enough.

But that wasn’t the whole story. The real issue was that during that trip, I wanted the skiing to feel a certain way and when it wasn’t feeling that way I was disappointed. What I should have been doing was let it feel the way it felt; then I should have just accepted it for what it was. Detachment—living in the moment and not trying to force an outcome—is never easy.

Thank you for reading Once skiing. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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It truly doesn’t

I am empty, tell those with questions I cannot see;
I am replete, tell those with answers I cannot hear.

Try this:
tell them to go and live simply with what they now have.
Tell them to take their hurt and twirl and float arms open,
crucified on hope and drifting in despair.

Ask them:
is that me, out there, circling somewhere?
Is that me, eyes open, past all the answers?
Is that me? really me? truly me?

I-don’t-know-leave-me-alone-I-don’t-care-it-doesn’t-matter,
it’s just how and just why and for now, just forever.

This poem stems from a comment that my dearest friend, Sam, made about how tired he was with people nagging him for answers and advice, yet not listening to him when he gave it. A human enough foible, no doubt, but wearisome and tiresome to deal with all the same, especially when you are under stress of your own.

The comment was very uncharacteristic of him and I knew that it was said only in temporary frustration. At the same time, it hit me hard, as I was feeling the same sort of thing in my own life, but was not able to articulate it, and it resonated with me. Love, speak, guide, offer, teach—but do not try to own the outcome. In the long run, you own only yourself.

Thank you for reading It truly doesn’t. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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